Jack was being deployed
to Louisiana for two weeks, so those of us in the class decided to go to dinner at Andrea’s. This restaurant is a great establishment on the city’s hideous, but life-filled Thayer Street
. The dim lighting, friendly waitresses
, and passers-by on the street provided a contrasting background for the dinner conversations. As we devoured our burgers and pasta (the appetizers
were long gone), our topics of conversation jumped across the board.
I teased Jack about his interactions with our waitress. We discussed relationships, the philosophy of hooking up, and the gossip of EMS. Someone brought up the party from last weekend, and how we don’t remember
what transpired there. The group was laughing and having a jolly good time. Then somewhere in the middle of all this cheerfulness
, someone remarked about its good to unwind, as we’ve seen some very weird things in our short lives by virtue of our jobs.
I don’t know why we put an abrupt end to the cheery
mood. We went around the table and told stories of calls that still haunt us. They all involved children. Caroline told us about the time back home when she responded to a 2-yr old that was in traumatic cardiac arrest
. His parents beat him to death. They did everything they possibly could: intraosseous line, intubated, CPR
, pushed epi and atropine
. They gave the kid the full workup and more. But the monitor remained frustratingly and merciless
ly flatlined. When they got to the E.R., the doctor pronounced him dead. After the call, Caroline’s crew chief drove the crew to their homes to see their families.
“I’m gonna hold my wife when I get home/I’m gonna tell my kids how much I love to see them smile.”
I told the story of a 3-month old that went into cardiac arrest from SIDS
. He was at a daycare, and then the caretaker noticed that he didn’t wake up from his nap. And he wasn’t breathing. CPR was started within one minute of the 911 call by police close by. He could have been not breathing for over 15 minutes, but the crew feverishly and passion
ately worked to do whatever possible to help. But there was no change. At the hospital, we took a while to compose ourselves. The parents, young and hopeful
, arrived to learn that they had just lost their first child. I almost cried with them. As this was transpiring, some happy children’s music played over the PA. This meant that a baby was just born in the delivery rooms. Life renewed
, in a way.
Then we came to Jack, who warned us that the events he was about to detail still give him nightmares
. Two kids were playing with gasoline
and matches in the garage. This went out of control, and the children caught on fire. When Jack and the fire crews arrived, the children had widespread third-degree burn
s. More frighteningly, much of their skin had rolled off onto the ground.
The waitress had overheard some of our conversation, and as Jack paid the bill, she said to us, “Make a difference
.” A simple, but very powerful motto
. Lest we forget, the most important purpose of science, religion, and education is to make a difference.
“We know that children are a rejuvenating wellspring of love and wonder, and caring for them nurtures us as well as them. We know that our work results in more laughter, more discovery, more sleepovers, more birthday parties, more cupcakes, more dances, more graduations, and eventually more of us. It is my belief that nowhere are the stakes higher or the rewards greater than in the care of critically ill children. It is our duty and our privilege to do our best.” –Robert W. Hickey, MD, AHA Subcommittee on Pediatric Resuscitation